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Donkey sits in at Occupy Wall Street (OWS)Cave to Occupy Wall Street Movement

It’s very en vogue at the moment to offer advice to Occupy Wall Street. This advice takes all forms – as the song goes, some kind of help is the kind of help that help is all about, and some kind of help is the kind of help we all could do without – but I, as a Wall Street occupier, feel as though I ought to do some advising of my own:

Dear Democratic Party,

Cave into pressure from us.

Do it. Go whole hog with it. Now is your moment. You have never had the type of political cover you have now, and you never will again. Stick a big middle finger up in the direction of Wall Street, fire your revolving-door-begotten staffers, declare yourself now and forever the party of working people, and be done with it.

It wasn’t until the Reagan era that the Democrats decided to delve into the murky swamps of extreme corporatism, a move designed to yield its eventual result: the attainment of fundraising parity with the GOP. Is it safe to assume that a lot of Democrats, a good number of whom are probably quite progressive at heart, wish they didn’t have to raise funds from Wall Street and would relish the opportunity presented by moving money out of politics? One has to raise a lot of money to be competitive, and the first order of business ought to be ensuring that the rules of elections do not incentivize selling out. But in the meantime, ride our wave, Democrats.

You will be seen as hypocritical, and this assertion will be just. After all, you spent the first few years of this global economic crisis letting Wall Street sweethearts do whatever they felt like doing with the American economy. Sweethearts like Tim Geithner, whom bankers call “our man in Washington.” Sweethearts like Larry Summers, whose major career achievement is deregulating the derivatives market in the 1990s. Sweethearts like Chris Dodd, whose top three lifetime contributors were, in ascending order, the American Bankers Association, JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America, before he retired. Sweethearts like Barney Frank, whose top staffer, Michael Paese, cashed out after writing the “financial regulation reform” bill by becoming director of governmental affairs at Goldman Sachs.

But hypocrisy is not as bad as depravity, and that is where things stand now. It is also better than abject servility – who but a party of masochists would continue groveling before Wall Street, which has abandoned you? President Obama, who, in 2004, took in more than ten times from Goldman Sachs what President Bush had taken in from Enron, is hemorrhaging banker support to Mitt Romney anyway – corrupt financial bigwigs are reportedly seething with fury at the Democrats who’ve had nice things to say about Occupy Wall Street. They’re not supporting you, Democrats, so you’re not getting anything out of supporting them. Support us, instead.

Look: President Johnson did not run on the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Acts. The people marching from Selma to Montgomery and their brothers and sisters rising up everywhere – and often taking severe beatings for it – are the ones that forced Johnson’s hand. As the president dedicates a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson helps save Occupy Wall Street’s medical tent from police usurpation, our minds turn to the civil rights movement and the march on Washington in 1963. The speech we must remember from that occasion is not the reverend’s dream, but the angry young man’s censored admonition. John Lewis, now a Democratic Congressman who wholeheartedly supports Occupy Wall Street, was then the youngest speaker on the slate – the same age as many of us at Liberty Plaza Park. His speech included this:

To those who have said, “Be patient and wait,” we must say that “patience” is a dirty and nasty word. We cannot be patient, we do not want to be free gradually. We want our freedom, and we want it now. We cannot depend on any political party, for both the Democrats and the Republicans have betrayed the basic principles of the Declaration of Independence.

So, whose side will you be on, Democrats? There is a lot of concern at Liberty Plaza that you (and your de facto activist wing, MoveOn) are trying to co-opt our movement, notably raising funds for yourselves by dropping our name. This is a fool’s errand – we are, in principle, not co-optable. Instead, acquiesce to us. Take a look at all the advice we’re getting about what sorts of legislation to demand, and you demand them instead. After all, you’re the ones whose job it is to make policy, not us. Our job is to make you make policy by creating a crisis. Well, here’s the crisis. What are you going to do about it?

You can lose – and if you stick by Wall Street, you will lose really, really badly – or you can take the best shot you’ve got. Expel Bill Daley and Gene Sperling and the rest of them, push for radical change, regard the 1 percent with contempt, and stand with us. There is no shame in caving to popular social movements – that is called “democracy.” There is only shame in caving to the will of the tiny minority whose job it is abuse and exploit everyone else.

Are you at least tempted?

Editor’s Note: This story originally published Sunday, October 21, 2011 at

J.A. Myerson

J.A. Myerson

J.A. Myerson is an independent journalist who is involved in the Media and Labor Outreach committees at Occupy Wall Street.

  1. Yes, abuse is a sensitive topic. Note how the mere inclusion of the word caused his sense of grammar to lapse.

    whose job it is (to) abuse and exploit everyone else.

    It bears repeating because that is exactly what the 1%ers are about. They can’t help it. They’re human predators obsessively destroying the people they rely on by using money as a surrogate to deprive them of necessary sustenance. Why would they do that? Ordinarily, predators only kill to eat. Why engage in what looks like a combination of a lion and a pack rat? It’s an aberration, seems the only logical explanation–an aberration which arises in a small percentage of the human species, but does so almost everywhere around the globe. It’s obsessive–instincts gone berserk.
    But the saving grace on Wall Street is that the object of their obsession is a figment of the imagination. No matter how much money they accumulate and hoard, we can make more, if we can just shake off the illusion that the quantity of money is fixed.
    Imagine if, having writ your piece, you concluded your supply of letters and words (script) were all used up and, unless the supply were replenished, your writing was stilled for ever more. Impossible, you say, because the alphabet and our use of it is free. True. So should the dollar be.

    The lesson we should take away from the bailout is that if we can pull trillions of dollars out of the air for the banks, we can pull trillions out of the air for ordinary folk.

    Perhaps the problem is that the dollar is dual-use. We use it to mediate trade and to keep track of transactions. Trade requires an unlimited supply; accounting wants fixed amounts. So, it’s the accountants that demand there should be no more or less so their ledgers show a balance. Blame the accountants. Accountants are like editors who specify a word-count to fill the space in the paper left over from the ads.

  2. Noel Holston

    I am probably just suffering from an attack of fuzz-brain, but it kind of seems like you’re suggesting that printing more money is the answer to what ails us.

  3. Geez, if folks like that are a majority, I am sure glad we are a republic.

    1. Lee Leslie

      We should, however, remember that the Republic gets its power from “We the people” and not the other way around.

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